Monday, April 22, 2024

Tri-county anticipating an additional $30M in opioid funds

One year after complying with the North Carolina STOP Act, New Hanover Regional Medical Center announced its opinion-related statistics. (Port City Daily/File photo)
Port City Daily/File photo

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — A new wave of opioids settlements are expected to materialize as millions more for treatment efforts.

Among Pender, Brunswick and New Hanover counties, as well as the City of Wilmington, the area will receive $30 million as part of a “wave two” of national settlements partly negotiated by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.

The first payments from this latest round are expected to hit government bank accounts in the coming months. Brunswick County will be the first to adopt an amendment to accept its $10.9 million during its Monday board of commissioners meeting. 

New Hanover will receive $14.9 million and Wilmington will collect $600,000. Pender is slated to get $3.8 million

Governments have until April 18 to accept the second wave of funds, to be paid over 14 years.

Every county and every large municipality in the state accepted their portion of the first wave of opioid settlement funding that went out in 2022. According to More Powerful, a campaign led by Stein and former North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen, if every recipient signs on again, the first payments from the second settlement package should arrive in the second half of the year.

The money is a small part of $600 million the state received from an even larger national settlement package of $21 billion from CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Allergan and Teva for their companies’ roles in the opioid crisis. This wave of settlements, which wrapped in December.

Each company will pay:

  • Teva: up to $3.34 billion and $1.2 billion worth of its generic version of the anti-overdose drug Narcan.
  • Allergan: up to $2.02 billion
  • CVS: up to $4.9 billion
  • Walgreens: Up to $5.52 billion
  • Walmart: up to $2.74 billion

These agreements were preceded by $26 billion in settlements with Johnson and Johnson — which divested from manufacturing opioids entirely last year — and several distributors.

Tri-county governments received $37 million from the first round of settlements. The rules attached to the first and second waves are largely the same. The list of requirements, including adopting a plan to spend settlement money and that it must be used for treatment and prevention, applies to both waves.

The timeframes to spend the money are slightly different. The first round is to be paid out and spent between 2022 and 2038. This latest round has a tighter window from 2023 to 2036. Governments must accept the money, approve budget amendments and create new capital project ordinances tied to the latest funding.

The state estimates opioids killed more than 32,000 people in North Carolina between 2000 and 2021 and the CDC estimates the economic burden of the crisis is $78.5 billion each year.

The General Assembly clamped down on opioid prescriptions in mid-2017 with the passage of the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention Act. The law was passed in the wake of reporting that the drugs had been chronically overprescribed since the turn of the 21st century.

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